Insurgents have struck again in Iraq, this time assassinating a senior government official, as they try to derail next month's national elections.

Police say unidentified gunmen killed the director of the Communications Ministry in a drive-by shooting as he headed to work Thursday, in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the death toll from a bomb attack in the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala Wednesday, climbed to 10 dead and at least 30 wounded.

And Italy's government says it is investigating reports that one of its nationals may have been kidnapped and killed in Iraq.

In a separate development, attorneys for ousted leader Saddam Hussein say he met Thursday, for the first time since his capture last year with a defense lawyer. Investigative hearings of Saddam's top lieutenants are to begin very soon, but the former dictator is likely to be among the last tried.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.